National Merit Semifinalists


Early this September, about 16,000 students, or approximately one-third of the 50,000 high scorers, were qualified as National Merit Semifinalists. To ensure that academically talented young people from all parts of the United States are included in this talent pool, Semifinalists are designated on a state-representational basis. They are the highest scoring entrants in each state. To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, Semifinalists must advance to Finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards.

These requirements do not appear to be achieved easily. Most students tend to sign up for a special class aimed at preparing for the big PSAT test or hire a tutor. However, 2015 semifinalist Lucas Friedman, who shares the title along with Nick Abbott, Greg Conan, and Kavya Sreedhar, discloses his not-as-intense prep experience.

β€œTo be honest my studying wasn’t all that intense.” Friedman said. β€œ I took the practice test, took note of what went wrong, and studied those subjects online via practice questions on the College Board website. But I didn’t have to take classes or devote a significant amount of time to it.”

Friedman says the trick to preparing is really about prioritizing what work you really need to do and trusting yourself to do the rest. Another piece of advice Friedman offers is to not bow into pressure and do your best to not psyche yourself out.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. In order to enter, high school students must take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), a test which serves as initiation of approximately 1.5 million entrants each year.

In order for students to enroll in The National Merit Scholarship Program they must take the PSAT/NMSQT in the specified year of the high school program and no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12. At Lakeridge, all sophomores are required to take this test in mid-October at school. Students must also be enrolled as a high school student (traditional or home schooled), progressing at a normal rate toward graduation or completion of high school, and planning to enroll full time in college no later than the fall following their completion of high school; and

be a citizen of the United States; or be a U.S. lawful permanent resident and intend to become a U.S. citizen at the earliest opportunity allowed by law.